NXNE 2014 Preview: Comedy
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NXNE 2014 Preview: Comedy

Though comedian and podcaster Marc Maron will technically be delivering the keynote address for NXNE’s interactive program on June 18, it’s easy to believe there will be enough laughs in his speech to think of it as an unofficial kick-off for the festival’s extensive comedy schedule. From shows at Comedy Bar and Yuk Yuk’s to the Laugh Sabbath Film Festival at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, there are some funny and eclectic events slated for this week that demand attention in the midst of everything else that’s going on.

Reggie Watts

When: Friday, June 20, 8:40 p.m.
Where: The Great Hall (1087 Queen Street West)

When: Friday, June 20, 12:30 a.m.
Where: MiO Squirtcar

Creatively combining comedy and music in his act, the Afro-sporting Reggie Watts makes for an ideal act at a diverse festival like NXNE. You may have seen him in one of his specials like Why Shit So Crazy? or as the musical sidekick to host Scott Aukerman on the IFC show Comedy Bang! Bang!, but there’s nothing quite like seeing Watts perform live. To bear witness as he builds a song in front of you by using loops of vocals and instrumentation is to understand exactly what makes him so gifted and original.

The Pizza Underground

When: Thursday, June 19, 8:30 p.m.
Where: MiO Squirtcar

When: Thursday, June 19, 11 p.m.
Where: Lee’s Palace (529 Bloor Street West)

When: Friday, June 20, 10:30 a.m.
Where: NXNE Festival Village at Edward Day Gallery (952 Queen Street West)

When: Friday, June 20, 8:15 p.m.
Where: The Great Hall (1087 Queen Street West)

Okay, so the pizza-themed Velvet Underground tribute band that includes Macaulay Culkin hasn’t exactly met with a rapturous reception. A recent tour of Europe had to be cut short after the group was pelted with pints of beer at a show in England. But there’s likely no other way you’ll ever hear “Take a Walk on the Wild Side” transformed into “Take a Bite of the Wild Slice”—and hey, you might even get a free slice of pizza out of it, too.

Kurt Braunohler

When: Friday, June 20, 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.; and Saturday, June 21, 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Where: Comedy Bar (945 Bloor Street West)

Presented in partnership with Empire Comedy Live, Kurt Braunohler’s appearance at NXNE comes on the heels of his completion of a week-long jet-ski trip from Chicago to New Orleans—part of a fundraising effort to provide goats and chickens for needy African families. Aside from working with Kristen Schaal on their weekly variety show in Los Angeles, the comedian also released his debut album—How Do I Land?—last year and hosts his podcast The K Ohle on the popular Nerdist network. He’ll be in town for four performances, before taking on hosting duties for Sunday Night Live.

Scott Thompson

When: Wednesday, June 18, 10:40 p.m.
Where: Tranzac Club (292 Brunswick Avenue)

Fresh from another welcome reunion with The Kids in the Hall and his inspired pieces of reporting from the Sochi Olympics for The Colbert Report, Scott Thompson—who already enjoys legendary status in the local comedy community—will likely be the biggest draw among the impressive crop of homegrown comics appearing at the festival. If you aren’t able to see his performance at the Tranzac on Wednesday night, consider instead stopping by the Rivoli the night before for his appearance on Nicky Nasrallah’s Quip Talk alongside fellow guest Dave Merheje.

  POP and ROCK